The BenQ EX3501R is a unique ultra-wide curved gaming monitor which brings exclusives features such as the Brightness Intelligence Plus technology, entry-level HDR support, and USB-C to the already enticing set of specs such as the 3440×1440 resolution and AMD FreeSync up to 100Hz.
Thanks to its 2,500:1 contrast ratio, the monitor offers deep and distinct black tones as well as a more notable relation between the darkest and the brightest colors.
Apart from that, the monitor covers 100% of the sRGB color gamut with true 8-bit color depth.
While the display offers 178-degree viewing angles in all directions, minor shifts in contrast and brightness are expected when the screen is viewed from certain off-angles.
The giant 35-inch screen is perfectly complemented by the UWQHD resolution making for a rich pixel density of 106 pixels per inch.
This means that the picture will have plenty of screen real estate as well as maximum details without any scaling necessary.
When it comes to gaming, a 100Hz refresh rate offers a significantly more fluent and responsive feel to gaming in comparison to the standard 60Hz displays.
Alas, some ghosting and motion blur of fast-moving objects will be apparent, especially in darker scenes. At higher frame rates though, the ghosting is less visible.
The BenQ EX3501R input lag performance is very good with ~10ms of delay.
Be sure to check whether your favorite games support 21:9, or else you will have black borders at the sides of the picture or a stretched image in certain video games.
Overall, the BenQ EX3501R performance is top-notch but the monitor is more suited for those who prefer better graphics and visuals than competitive gameplay.
If you are looking for a monitor for competitive gaming, look for a TN-panel display with a 144Hz refresh rate and a 1ms response time speed.
Along with the common adjustments and features such as brightness/contrast, gamma, color settings, etc as well as the Picture in Picture and Picture by Picture modes, the BenQ EX3501R has a lot more tricks up its sleeve.
The Brightness Intelligence Plus technology features a built-in sensor that automatically adjusts brightness and color temperature according to the on-screen content and ambient lighting.
The sensor has several sensitivity levels and customizable settings. For instance, you can adjust it to gradually decrease the screen’s brightness as you work.
In addition to the flicker-free screen and the low blue light filter, the BenQ EX3501R VA monitor effectively prevents eye fatigue and headaches if you are sensitive to screen flickering.
In the OSD (On-Screen Display) menu, there are several pre-calibrated picture presets as well as three customizable Gamer profiles.
The presets include Photo, Standard, two regular custom profiles, M-Book, and HDR. Lastly, the Cinema mode offers native video formats (24p, 25p, and 30p) for a judder-free movie watching experience.
FreeSync & HDR
If you have an AMD FreeSync compatible graphics card, you can entirely eliminate screen tearing and stuttering by synchronizing the refresh rate between the BenQ EX3501R 100Hz monitor and your graphics card.
You can use the monitor if you have an NVIDIA graphics card as well, but you won’t benefit from the variable refresh rate. The BenQ EX3501R FreeSync range amounts to 48-100Hz via both the DisplayPort and HDMI ports.
Even if your FPS (Frames Per Second) rate drops below 48, the LFC (Low Framerate Compensation) kicks in to save the day by doubling the frames for stutter-free gameplay.
Update: FreeSync also works without any issues when using a compatible NVIDIA G-SYNC graphics card. Some EX3501R units, however, display tearing/flickering at 100FPS (solved by capping the frame rate to 1-2 frames below 100) and flickering below ~48FPS when LFC is triggered which can be (depending on your particular model) alleviated by increasing the VRR range via CRU.
While the BenQ EX3501R does claim HDR (High Dynamic Range) support, the compatible content will only slightly be enhanced due to the lack of display capabilities needed for a notable improvement in image quality for HDR content.
With a mere 300-nit peak brightness and only the standard sRGB color gamut, the HDR support is software-enabled thus offering a barely visible upgrade in comparison to what a more capable HDR display can actually do.
Design & Connectivity
The design of the BenQ EX3501R consists of thin bezels at the sides and top which nicely complements the edge-to-edge display. Ergonomics include up to 60mm of height adjustment and -5°, 20° tilt while the 1800R screen curvature further immerses you into the gaming world.
Connectivity includes two HDMI 2.0 ports, DisplayPort 1.4, two USB 3.1 ports, a USB type C port, and a headphones jack.
The USB-C port, however, doesn’t support PD (Power Delivery) for laptops; it can be used as the DisplayPort Alt mode or as the upstream USB port.
When the USB-C port is used as the alternate display mode, the USB hub is limited to the USB 2.0 bandwidth (480Mb/s) – if it’s used as the upstream port, the USB hub offers up to 5 Gb/s bandwidth.
Price & Similar Monitors
The BenQ EX3501R price is around $750 which is a fair price considering all the nifty features, great image quality, and smooth performance.
If you have a powerful NVIDIA card, you should consider the Dell Alienware AW3418DW with NVIDIA G-SYNC up to 120Hz and an IPS panel with more accurate colors and better pixel transition.
The LG 34GK950F is also worth checking out. It’s the first 3440×1440 ultrawide displays with a native 144Hz refresh rate.
Overall, the BenQ EX3501R is an astonishing ultra-wide display which excels at more than just gaming.
It has unique features such as the advanced eye-care technology, the impeccable USB-C connectivity, and support for different native movie formats. So, as long as you need all or most of its features, it’s definitely a great deal.
If you’re leaning more towards just gaming, there are cheaper and better alternatives. The same applies if you’re just looking for an ultra-wide monitor for productivity.
BenQ EX3501R Specifications
|Aspect Ratio||21:9 (UltraWide)|
|Response Time||4ms (GtG)|
|Adaptive Sync||FreeSync (48Hz-100Hz)|
|Ports||DisplayPort 1.4, 2x HDMI 2.0|
|Other Ports||2x USB 3.1, USB-C, Headphone Jack|
|Contrast Ratio||2500:1 (static)|
|Colors||16.7 million (true 8-bit)|
What We Loved
- Monitor excels at all – working, gaming, and watching movies
- Plenty of features
- AMD FreeSync up to 100Hz with LFC support
- Great image quality with high contrast
What We Didn’t Like
- No VESA mount
- Minor ghosting visible in fast-paced games and dark scenes
- HDR support is software-enabled only
Joseph is a tech writer and copy-editor that has written and ghostwritten hundreds of articles for different online magazines and blogs. He now writes and manages DisplayNinja to ensure it stays as the people’s favorite resource.